Message from the President

January 2023 RWR
Clair Brett
The word writer is really a verb — hold on, stay with me here. Yes, I was an English teacher for fifteen years, so I know what you are thinking.

By now, you have probably met someone, and they found out you are a writer. First, you see the surprise on their faces, like they just met a jackalope in the wild. Then, often that is followed by some form of, “Well, I have this awesome idea for a book, but I am just too busy, or I’ve never found the time to sit down and write it.”

The fact is only 3 percent of the people who start writing a novel—the person who just brags about having an idea doesn’t even figure into this equation—will finish their project and get to write “the end.” Which also means that 97 percent of those who start never finish. If you are at all immersed in the romance writing community, these numbers seem very low because everyone around us is writing and completing projects. All that means is we are hobnobbing in the 3 percent.

What is my point here? If you call yourself a writer and you have finished a project or routinely make progress on a project you are working on, you are a writer!

We all can remember the first writer meeting or conference we attended. Probably dripping in imposter syndrome, looking over your shoulder, waiting for security to appear and escort you out because you didn’t belong. You had no right to be there because you didn’t have a right to call yourself a writer—or so that nasty mean-girl voice in your head told you.

The fact is, if you write and you get joy out of the exercise, you have every right to call yourself a writer. Maybe every Sunday when your spouse takes the kids out, you grab a coffee and sit down to type away at the story about those characters in your head that just won’t leave you alone. Maybe you don’t have any intention right now to publish this story. You just want to find out how it ends. Yup, you are a writer.

If you love a certain movie and curl up in the evening to write stories with your favorite characters and then share it on a fan-fic site for other fans to enjoy. Writer.

We tend to think that those who seriously work toward publishing their work are the brilliant unicorns that get to put writer next to their name. I am arguing that anyone who actively writes and gets words from their head to a more permanent medium are all writers.

Bad poets, serial authors, novella writers, epic fantasy, memoirs all count. Remember that.

Our society tends to put parameters around who gets to label themselves certain things, so we think that we need to hit a pinnacle in our journey, that writing as a hobby isn’t really being a writer, or that writing fanfic isn’t being a writer, but society is wrong.

If you are reading this, you are an RWA member, and this means you are giving time and energy to learn more and improve in this skill. You are invested. Unlike the person who brags that if their life wasn’t already so full and wonderful, they could easily bang out the great American novel, you are taking the steps to do it.

So, I end with how I began. Writer should be a verb, because without the action of putting words into the world, you cannot use the label.

Like the song “I am Woman,” I challenge you to put on your best warrior voice and shout for the world to hear, “I am Writer!”

Now, go write.